Sharpening Select Areas
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Sharpening Select Areas

Using these steps will help you sharpen key features in your images. Using Photoshop, or other image manipulation programs, with these steps will help increase the value of your image. I am sure that you have seen many images that don't quite have the subject of the picture standing out, using these steps will help you make that image pop.

Let’s talk about sharpening again, but this time I want to talk about selective sharpening.  That’s right, we are just going to sharpen a certain aspect of your image and make it sharper than the rest of it.  This means that we will see everything else in the same focal depth less as detailed.

We have all seen images with an even sharpness in the focal depth, (the focal point of the image), and at times it seems as though it isn’t all that impressive; seeing the subject of the image just sitting there with the rest of the shot.  But what if we can make that subject pop out from the rest of the image, I think that would make your client more appreciative, and most certainly your port magnificent.

Let’s begin.  Open your image.  If you have shot the subject with a small aperture and at a long distance the subject will not be standing out from the rest of the image.  The first thing we want to do is to duplicate the Background layer, sharpen the entire image using the Smart Sharpen or Unsharp Mask in the Filter menu; Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask or Smart Sharpen.  Make sure you are seeing the image at 100% and sharpen the key details.  (If the subject is an animal or person we want to focus on sharpening key details in the face).

When we sharpen the desired areas it is likely that we will over sharpen areas that may distract the eye of the viewer.  (It may also produce halos or noise in the over sharpened areas).  We want to more effectively sharpen only the area that needs the sharpening.  Add a black, ‘hide all’*, mask to the sharpened layer.  This will reveal the unsharpened image on the layer below.

Let’s restore the sharpening to selected areas.  Choose a suitable sized white brush, click the mask thumbnail and paint over the area you need to sharpen. 

If you happen to make a mistake hit X on your keyboard to switch to a black brush and paint over the area again; this will hide the sharpening in the area that you are using the black paint brush.  Remember to hit X again to switch back to the white brush when you want to continue sharpening.

If the sharpening is a little too much adjust your opacity in the layer palette.  If an effect is over done a little it is always easy to tone it down with the opacity.

Keep shooting and share your talent with the world.

*To create a black ‘HIDE ALL’ layer mask in Photoshop hold down the ALT key  while clicking the layer mask.

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